HydroCarbon Extractions


Demand for extracted cannabis products is quickly gaining traction. For example, edibles companies saw $1.5 billion in sales in major markets in 2017—and cartridge sales last year cleared $610 million in those same markets, according to Brightfield Group. When executed properly, cannabis extracts can be also used to produce other high-quality products such as topicals, transdermal patches, capsules and other concentrates. Yet, cannabis extraction can be a complex process-one that needs careful attention and a skilled workforce to be completed safely and efficiently.

The first part of this special extraction series explored the products that can be derived from cannabis’ essential oils-such as tinctures, transdermal patches, oral tablets, vaporizing and dabbing oils, and many more-and how those extract formulations can be achieved through supercritical carbon dioxide extraction (SCCO2).

The second installment of this series explores hydrocarbon extraction, butane in particular, including its functionality, laboratory requirements and what features should be considered during extractor selection.

Introduction to Butane

Before diving in, a quick review of relevant physical properties of n-butane can be helpful. Butane is a non-polar, Class 2 flammable liquefied gas that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS). It has a low boiling point of 31.1°F (-0.5°C), which is helpful when cold-boiling the residual solvent from the concentrate solution.